After the Big Storm forecast overnight and today (27/28 October 2013) I started to think about other big storms I had experienced.
The most scary was probably the 1987 Hurricane which hit around this time of year (a bit earlier I think). We lived in Norwich then and were suddenly woken early morning by our open window being blown off its catch and crashing wide open! Being woken like that was frightening and disorientating and initially we didn’t realise what had happened. We did realise quite quickly when we heard the noise, first by the wind in the huge oak tree in our garden and then by the noise in the house.
Our big concern was the oak tree as if it came down it would be straight on to our roof! Clothes dragged on quickly and ran downstairs. Our cat had come in through the catflap with her hair standing on end but because the wind was rattling and clattering the chimney lining she was petrified and tried to rush out again. I had to grab her as I thought she’d be safer with me than outside. The wind was so strong by now that she could have been blown away.
I can’t remember how long it lasted but was probably only a few minutes and was so hard to believe what was going on. When it stopped we took stock and thank goodness there was no damage – the sturdy oak tree had remained standing. We debated whether to go in to work and decided to have a go, obviously cautiously. One of my staff rang to ask if I could pick her up as she was scared to drive. There were one or two trees down on the journey across Norwich but only about six people made it in to work – many of them being stuck in the countryside because of blocked roads.
The following spring, we were in awe, as we travelled south, to see the line of fallen trees through the forest around the Newmarket area.
The next memorable storm was in November 1993! We were on our boat for the weekend and having moored at Womack Staithe and gone for a walk, we decided to go to Ranworth for the night. We moored side on to the left of the dinghy dyke and settled down for the night. We woke to strong winds on the Sunday which gradually increased during the day to force 9/10 (that’s what it felt like anyway!). There were one or two incidents on the moorings of ropes being broken, boats crashing together with broken windows etc and when one boat tried to leave the moorings, even on full engine power they couldn’t pull away!
Although we should have been home that night, ready for work the next day, we knew there was no way we would get off the moorings. The waves across Malthouse Broad were so strong that the water was coming through our hopper windows! All the extra fenders we could find were put out, ropes checked and adjusted and we settled down to sit it out. We were prepared for some night navigation if the wind dropped but it didn’t, keeping us pinned to the quay all night – we didn’t get a lot of sleep! At 5am we decided the conditions had improved enough to allow us to get off the mooring and in a carefully planned manoeuvre we managed to get away! Phew!
It was with some anticipation that I waited for the storm to hit today and having heard from family in Kent that it had been horrendous, I was quite concerned. The media were hyping it up of course, with trains being cancelled and advice on travelling being given. Everything moveable in the garden was put in the garage, all windows securely shut and we waited! And waited, and waited …. around 9 am the rain started lashing down and the tall trees started bending and I thought “here it comes” but by the time I’d got my camera set to video, it had gone! I’m sure we were very lucky in south Norfolk as I understand there has been some damage in the rest of the county, but it did turn into a bit of a non event. Thank goodness!!